Needle Weaving

Basic needle weaving is a simple, but effective way to fill a large space and is used in various ways thoughout the designs in our range of embroidery projects. This tuition page gives you the basics of needle weaving after which you might wish to attempt some loom weaving patterns that have been modified for needle weaving.

In the video clips on this page, the small samples were worked with perle no. 5 thread on circles measuring 20 mm in diameter. If you wish to experiment with the stitch before you work it onto your project, trace the template that is on the PDF instructions, onto your working fabric.

The stitch instructions and diagrams appear below, with the video clip at the bottom of the page. If you would like a printable version, click here.

  • Trace the 20 mm diameter circle with a heat erasable pen.
  • With the same heat erasable pen, draw vertical and horizontal lines down and across the middle of the circle.  These lines will be a useful guide. 

Single Weaving

When working both the warp and the weft stitches, it is usually better to start in the centre of any shape that you are working.  It helps you to set the angles that you need to use. 

The Warp Stitches

The warp stitches are long straight stitches that are worked over the shape in which you want to place needle weaving.  They are the stitches that will be woven through when you work the weft stitches. 

The sample in these instructions is a circle which means that there is no longer or shorter side.  On most other shapes, one side will be longer than the other and it is usually best to work the warp stitches over the shortest side.  This is because potentially, they loosen easily so the shorter the stitch, the less potential they have for loosening noticeably.

  • Starting on the centre vertical line, work vertical warp stitches to fill both sides of the circle. 
  • On circle of 20 mm diameter, you will probably fit in about 19 stitches, one in the middle and 9 on either side.
  • Come up at the top of the circle and go in at the bottom.
  • Leaving a sliver of fabric to show, come up at the bottom and go in at the top.  It is important to leave a little space between the warp stitches (about the width of a thread).  If you pack them too closely together you will have difficulty differentiating between each stitch when you start the weaving in the warp rows.  You will also find that the weaving begins to ‘bubble’ because you have too much thread in one small space. 
  • Keep working out to the side, trying to keep your warp stitches parallel to one another and evenly spaced.  Weaving is a forgiving technique and whilst you aim for straight, evenly spaced stitches, don’t fret if they aren’t perfect.  Once you have worked the weft rows through these stitches, they will mask anything that’s slightly crooked or slightly further apart.
  • Once you have completed the one side, return to the centre of the circle and work the other side.

The Weft Stitches (or rows)

  • Starting once again, in the centre come up through the fabric on the perimeter line of the circle.
  • Following the diagram above, work the first row going under the first warp stitch, over the second, under the third and so on.  Over one and under one for the entire row.
  • When you reach the other side, pull the thread taut and making sure that it is lying at right angles to the warp stitches, go into the fabric on the line, at the point where it crosses the line.
  • To work the next row, you have two options.  You can come up on the same side, leaving a space similar to that space you left between the warp stitches or you can return to the side where you started the first row, coming up below the first row leaving a similar space. 
  • So, if we assume that you returned to the same side as where you started, you started the first row by going under the first warp stitch so you start the second row by going over the first warp stitch.  Complete the row in the same way, going over where you went under (and vice versa) in the first row, going in on the other side leaving a similar spacing as you left at the start of the row.
  • Keep going in this way, alternating the sequence in every row.
  • As you work the weft rows, you will probably find that they ‘hang down’ a little.  That they don’t hug the previous weft stitch.  From the beginning of the third row start using your needle to push up the previous rows.  ‘Load’ the needle with warp stitches, as many as you can and before you pull through push the needle up hard.  This will push the previous weft row up so that it hugs the row before that.  Do this on every weft row.
  • Work to the bottom of the circle and then return to the middle to work the top.  Continue alternating the sequence as you work each row and instead of pushing up with your needle, push down so that the rows hug those below.

Double Weaving and Uneven Weaving

The Warp Stitches

Double and Uneven weaving are worked over two and then under two warp stitches.  With this in mind, you make it easier for yourself if the place two warp stitches close together (out and into the same hole), leave a space and then work the next pair.  This is demonstrated on the video clip. 

In line with the instructions for single weaving, start on the middle line of the circle working vertical pairs of stitches out to one side.  Return to the middle and work pairs of stitches out to the other side.  In total, you will work about 9 pairs of warp stitches over the 20 mm circle.

The Weft Stitches

Double Weaving:

  • Starting once again, in the centre come up through the fabric on the perimeter line of the circle.
  • Referring to the bottom half of the diagram above, go under two stitches, then over two and under two for the rest of the row. 
  • As with the single weaving, when you reach the other side, pull the thread taut and making sure that it is lying at right angles to the warp stitches, go into the fabric on the line, at the point where it crosses the line.
  • Work a second, identically sequenced row.
  • The third and fourth row are worked with the opposite sequence.  You start by going over the first two warp stitches, then under the next two and so on. 
  • As with the single weaving, continue to the bottom of the circle and then work the top half, alternating the sequence every time you have completed two weft rows.
  • Also as with the single weaving, use your needle to push up or down as you work the rows so that they hug the rows before.

Uneven Weaving:

  • Like the double weaving, you work over and under two warp stitches with the difference being that you change the sequence every row.  Following the top half of the diagram above, use similar spacing and use your needle to push up (or down) so that the weft rows hug one another.

And now for the video clip that covers all of the above.

(Don’t forget to click the icon in the bottom right-hand corner to get it to full screen).